Report Says U.S. Should Take Advantage of Coal Exports

by Barbara Vergetis Lundin

Source: Fierce Energy

Increasing U.S. coal exports could be good for the U.S. economy and the environment, according to a new report by the National Center for Policy Analysis, as increasing governmental regulations and decreasing domestic demand paint challenge the U.S. coal industry.

Foreign demand for American coal is on the rise. According to the report, India, Japan and China all have increasing demand for coal, and China relies on coal for over 70 percent of its energy production; German imports of American coal doubled from 2010 to 2011, and could continue to rise as Germany shifts from nuclear energy production to coal by 2022; the United Kingdom and the Netherlands were the two largest importers of American coal in 2012; and American coal exports to Britain were 73 percent higher in the first three quarters of 2012 than in 2011.

While expanding coal exports could be extremely beneficial, concern over coal's environmental impact has led to increased regulations, extensive delays and the cancellation of several expansion projects. But, according to the report, these concerns are misplaced.

"For example, restricting coal exports to China will not reduce its emissions from burning coal," said National Center for Policy Analysis Research Associate Jacopo Zenti, author of the report. "Without American imports, China would simply look elsewhere or consume more of its own coal, which often comes from unsafe, less regulated and environmentally damaging mines."

The United States should take advantage of the global movement on coal.

"Restricting coal export will not dissuade other countries from burning coal, and will instead hurt the American economy and U.S. workers," Zenti said.